I finally finished my poverty piece today** (well, there’s still some tweaking that needs to be done, but I’m working on it!) and it feels really good. I actually had a lot more to work with than I thought I would. I spoke to a good number of people, and honestly, even though I got great information, it was tough to kind of wrap my brain around such a topic and more importantly, how I would report on it.
**By this I mean my first draft.
I joined the education beat because I was inspired by the first poverty story (and subsequent letter to the readers) written by Abby Eisenberg and Garrett Evans. I’ve reported on educational reform before, and my mom is passionate about the educational system, ever since serving on the school board when we lived in Orlando.
The story I’ve put together is as concise as I could make it, but there’s always room for change. That’s why I’m going to look over it — more than a few times — tonight, and why I’ve read it a lot prior to today. Poverty is a tough topic to cover. There’s no easy way to jump into an issue that is so steeped in controversy and veiled in taboo. I don’t think it’s that people are ignorant of the issue of poverty; it’s just a matter of discussing it that introduces some obstacles. I even found myself questioning my own interests at stake as I wrote the article. I’ve lived a privileged life, and I’m not about to discount that. But as a person who experienced a more privileged life, I wanted to be around the students, and the people, who have a goal in life that goes beyond socioeconomics. I wanted to report about it because not only did I (nor do my colleagues and community) not know enough about the issue, but I feel like it’s an issue that just needs to be covered. Our economy and financial structures have decimated the socioeconomics of our country, and it’s fascinating to see this at the local level.
Talking about poverty could potentially be like opening a can of worms. I’m not going about it with a goal of defaming anyone or putting anyone on a pedestal. I’m actively trying to avoid generalizing and looking at everything I analyze and report. It’s too much of a volatile issue for me not to be detail-oriented. Also, because of the issues I’ve run into earlier this semester (let me say again, corrections are NOT fun, in the slightest), I’ve learned that being self-critical is important to becoming a better journalist. I can’t just assume that what I write doesn’t have any pre-conceived notions or observations that may not be appropriate. It’s just a matter of me being able to address the relationship between objectivity and analysis in my reporting. It seems that I might have found some good context for Kovach and Rosensteil’s The Elements of Journalism. It may be time for me to pull out that book again.
But for now, I’m happy with the reporting I’ve done. I hope that it comes out well and portrays what I have been contemplating and wanting to tell the people. I hope also that it continues in the footsteps of what Garrett and Abby did so well last semester and is a good follow-up, however it may end up looking like around publication time. It’s too important of an issue to not think about.
Aside from that, I’ve also got a few other things in the works this week. I’m going to work on some more content for the school board election, and I may tag along at a public forum on Thursday. I’ve also picked up a potential idea about a partnership between Islamic Center and Columbia Public Schools. I’m learning about the Middle East and Islam now, and this idea pricks my long-time yearning to tap into the culture. We’ll see how that turns out.
Moreover, True/False is this weekend and I’m beyond excited! I’m volunteering at the Picturehouse as a theatre ops volunteer, so I’ll be a busy bee over the week, with my purple fest shirt, yellow badge and all. I’m gonna see what I can fit into the next few days before the wonderful annual fest comes around.
I also had a thought about something I came across on Facebook the other day. Now, I don’t personally have a Pinterest account, but this series of photos I was linked to was a really creative use of the website. Pinterest works kind of like a visual chronology of posts from people you follow, from what I can grasp from it. I’ve had a Tumblr before, which is basically like the fusion of Twitter and a more long-form blog. On Tumblr, you have a dashboard where you can see posts from people you follow, and you can re-blog these posts if you can. You can also create your own posts, tag them, etc. Tumblr was (maybe still is) the headquarters of everything hipster — under-exposed photos of skinny blonde girls, “memes” (a cute little online development from my generation), song streaming. I’m not sure how Pinterest works, but I do know that the dashboard on the website is similar to Tumblr’s.
Alas, I can’t find the Pinterest anymore. And you can’t search on Facebook (hey, developers, do you hear me?), so I can’t show the link! But anyway, what this Pinterest chain of posts did was splay out famous photos from our modern culture’s history. It jumped from Audrey Hepburn to Che Guevara to George Bush. It was a very visual chronology, and I honestly thought it was fascinating to use a social-network-of-sorts as a way to briefly describe our recent history through pictures (which seems like such a daunting task). I know newspapers have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and as more and more develop profiles on sites like Tumblr, maybe they should look at websites like Pinterest to post photos to create an ad hoc record of posts.
Now, I’m not about to get a Pinterest. I’m also hesitant to jump on the train of journalism becoming completely enveloped in new technology, because I think we run the risk of compromising our product. But I do think that actively engaging in alternatives is good to keep journalism fresh. I suppose it’s true that we won’t be able to rely on newsprint forever. (But I read the newspaper every day, no worries. I will never stray from the physical copy — for now.)